You kind of had to know this was coming in some form or another. With the surprise announcement
that Google was creating a holding company called Alphabet and effectively "breaking" off pieces of Google (all under the same holding company), there had
to be trademark disputes coming. Alphabet is such a common word and used in lots of business names. A quick search of the US Patent and Trademark Office's word mark search shows 123 "live" trademarks that include "alphabet" in some manner or another. And so it should come as little surprise that Reuters is reporting that car giant BMW is already considering if Google's Alphabet infringes on its own Alphabet
, which is a service company working with vehicle fleets for corporate customers.
And, the NY Times reports that others are concerned as well
The name isn’t just causing waves with BMW. On Wall Street, there is an Alphabet Funds. Lots of midsize and small companies also use the name Alphabet. There is an Alphabet Energy in Hayward, Calif.; an Alphabet Record Company in Austin, Tex.; an Alphabet Plumbing in Prescott, Ariz.; and numerous preschools, inns and restaurants with some variation of the name.
Of course, this may just be posturing. While you can argue that, yes, Alphabet/Google has its self-driving cars project, Alphabet itself is just a holding company. And you'd be hard pressed to argue that there was (a) any real overlap in the goods and services or (b) likelihood of confusion between the BMW subsidiary and the Google's new holding company. In fact, the "Alphabet Funds" operation might actually have slightly
more of a case, in arguing that there is at least the possibility of some confusion, even if the likelihood is pretty weak.
Either way, it's not sure any of this really matters. If Google gets too concerned about it, there isn't much of a reason it can't just change the name again, as Alphabet is kind of meaningless. Hell, it might as well just call it abc.xyz since that's the domain it has. Of course, a quick trademark search shows nearly 500 registrations with ABC, so maybe that's not perfect either....